And it’s just getting started. Moderates and independents thought conservatives were just being partisan (certainly many were to be fair) when we were explaining what the nation was getting with an Obama/Chicago-style administration. It’s not a joke, nor is it mere politics. They mean business. If you’re not with them, you’re against them and thus become a target of ridicule, official scorn and marginalization.
In reference to Fox News, White House officials had these things to say (emphasis mine):
- David Axelrod, senior adviser to Pres. Obama: “Our concern is other media not follow their lead.”
- Dan Pfeiffer, deputy White House communications director: “We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization.”
- Anita Dunn, White House communications director (video): “The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it is not ideological… what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”
- Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff (video): “No, it’s not so much a conflict with Fox News. But, unlike … I suppose the way to look at it, and the way we, the President looks at it, we look at it is … it’s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that’s a different take. And more importantly is not have the CNN’s and the others in the world basically be led and following Fox as if that what they’re trying to do is a legitimate news organization in the sense of both sides’ sense of a valued opinion.”
- President Obama, our President: “If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing, and if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another.”
All that to say, stop criticizing us or else!? Or else what? Even Sally Quinn of the WashingtonPost, in this video, is concerned about the precedent being set for the press in general in this fight with Fox News. Since when was it an American past-time for the Executive branch of the government to attack a specific news organization, no matter what their political bent, and then threaten the larger press if they follow their lead? These are astonishing actions at the official level of the White House.
There are at least some in the mainstream media coming to the defense of the Free Press philosophy inherent within this nation, which this administration seems to loathe. These attacks by the administration, cited above, may not be unconstitutional (such as an executive order being signed or Congressional law being passed that bans certain media outlets), but they are certainly un-American attacks, especially coming from the Executive branch of the government.
This is an exchange at a press conference with the White house between ABC News’ Jake Tapper, who came to Fox News’ defense, and Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary:
Tapper: It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one —
Gibbs: Jake, we render, we render an opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness that, the fairness of that coverage.
Tapper: But that’s a pretty sweeping declaration that they are “not a news organization.” How are they any different from, say —
Gibbs: ABC —
Tapper: ABC. MSNBC. Univision. I mean how are they any different?
Gibbs: You and I should watch sometime around 9 o’clock tonight. Or 5 o’clock this afternoon.
Tapper: I’m not talking about their opinion programming or issues you have with certain reports. I’m talking about saying thousands of individuals who work for a media organization, do not work for a “news organization” — why is that appropriate for the White House to say?
Gibbs: That’s our opinion.
In addition, David Zurawik, writer for the Baltimore Sun said in this blog article:
“I have said before, as many problems as I have with Fox News, I am fundamentally opposed to any administration trying to bully any part of the press into submission as this one is doing.”
“But here is what kept me up most of the night thinking about this: all of the people I know who have lost their jobs in the last year as the recession and Wall Street greed savaged the economy. The White House chief of staff and President Obama’s most trusted strategists aren’t out there on the Sunday morning talk shows offering plans to put people back to work or at least trying to rally the spirits of the unemployed and the millions of others who fear they will soon lose jobs. Think Franklin Roosevelt, radio and his White House team. No, the Obama brain trust is instead spending Sunday morning TV capital attacking a cable news channel with bad arguments.”
“I will take the press critics in the West Wing like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod seriously when they condemn MSNBC for the same sins and worse than Fox.”
“And I will take this administration more seriously when it starts doing the real work of governing instead of worrying primarily about its image and trying to silence anyone who would be critical of it.”